Researchers have discovered that all primates have an innate ability to repair spinal damage, including humans. They have never noticed this before because scientists usually use rodents in neurology experiments and rodents simply don’t possess neural sprouting.
The researchers found that the injured nerves didn’t regrow. Instead, new nerves sprouted in a process called “spontaneous plasticity,” essentially routing the spinal column around the injury. This kind of neural sprouting doesn’t occur in rodents, which are the animals that scientists typically use in neuroscience experiments. As a result, nobody had noticed this phenomenon before. This new study may lead to more testing on monkeys, but hopefully it will lead to discoveries that allow all primates to grow new nerve cells in the future.